CSUN Advances to Soccer Final on Veteran's Day

Times Staff Writer

So enough about the baby boomers.

Cal State Northridge's soccer season was in serious jeopardy of coming to an end in front of 4,164 partisan fans in the Final Four of NCAA Division II soccer.

Was this any time to depend on a bunch of rookies?

Rick Iversen, a senior whose career hung in the balance, thought not.

His free kick from 28 yards 1:39 into the second overtime period put Northridge ahead as the Matadors defeated Oakland University of Rochester, Mich., 3-1, Saturday night at North Campus Stadium.

The Matadors (18-7) will play host to Florida Tech, a team with more British players than a Monty Python movie, in the championship match today at 5 p.m.

Florida Tech, its roster dominated by 7 players from Great Britain, advanced to the title match with a 1-0 victory over Southern Connecticut State.

Iversen, a transfer from San Diego State, was 1 of only 2 seniors to start for Northridge. Conversely, there were 6 freshmen in the lineup. And they had accounted for CSUN's previous 9 goals when Iversen stepped up for his shot.

"It's funny," he said afterward. "I take a sports psychology class and I stepped back and convinced myself it was just practice. I looked at the goal once, picked out a spot on the ball and just cracked it."

You think Orel Hershiser has a nasty slider?

Iversen, kicking with his left foot, hooked the ball around a 4-man wall that Oakland had set up in front of its goal. The shot caromed off the crossbar and settled into the net behind Ralph Torre, the Pioneers' sprawling goalkeeper.

"That shot is tough on a keeper because he can't see it until it gets around the wall," Iversen said.

Eight minutes later, Bobby Reyes--yes, a freshman--took away any remaining suspense with his second goal of the game, beating Torre from 20 feet.

So who did CSUN Coach Marwan Ass'ad credit for the victory?

Well, just about everyone. But especially Terry Davila, who didn't even attempt a shot.

It was Davila who drew the foul that allowed Iversen's shot when he was tripped and elbowed by Oakland's Simon Mayo.

"He won the ball and that makes him a hero," Ass'ad said. "It doesn't matter how he did it. He got the ball for us."

Of course, Ass'ad, who has guided CSUN to playoff appearances the past 5 years, couldn't exactly forget Iversen.

"That was a goal you see in your dreams a lot more than you see on the field," he said of the game-wining shot.

Then he proceeded to spread credit even further. Why not, since Northridge had succeeded in downing a talent-laden Oakland team that came in 17-2-3 and second-ranked.

"We have 11 players, No. 12 is the fans and 13 through 100 is God," Ass'ad said. "In the first half, they had four chances around the box and didn't score."

And lets not forget the first overtime period, either, when Oakland outshot CSUN, 3-1. Twice attempts by Sel Eren, the Pioneers' top scorer, hit the crossbar and skimmed over the goal.

Almost the entire first half was played in front of the Northridge goal.

Oakland held a 20-4 edge in shots on goal, but the score was tied, 1-1.

The Matadors scored first and in textbook fashion.

Reyes did the honors on a header 10:14 into the game. Assisting on the play was Scott Piri who hit Reyes with a bulls-eye cross-field pass as he broke from the right sideline toward the middle of the field.

Piri had been sprinting down the left sideline and never broke stride in making the pass.

"That was a world-class assist," Ass'ad said.

It was the ninth Northridge goal in a row scored by a freshman. The last 4 were by Reyes, who had 1 goal during the regular season.

Oakland had several opportunities for goals off corner kicks. As much as Northridge struggled in failing to clear the ball from its own end, the Matadors were spectacular on defense in blocking Pioneer shots from inside the penalty area.

Oakland finally penetrated the defense of CSUN goalkeeper Jeff Blumkin on a goal by Paul Phillips that tied the score 37:45 into the game.

In the other semifinal match, Florida Institute of Technology upset defending national champion Southern Connecticut State on a goal by Tylan Hannan with 2:55 left in the first half.

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